Thanksgiving has been a favorite holiday of mine for about 30 years or so now…since about 1992 I suppose. Before that, my family always went out for dinner on Thanksgiving because my Dad nor my brother were fans of turkey or dressing. So I was dragged along to places like Cracker Barrel instead of sitting down to a nice home-cooked, traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
But around 1992 I think, I put my foot down and declared that I wasn’t going out, and that I’d sit at home, make a frozen pizza and watch football. Surprisingly, my folks were ok with that since I was old enough to stay home. A year or so later, Mom decided that even though they were going out for dinner, she wanted some turkey. So she baked a turkey breast, made some dressing, and a bowl of potato salad. All of which I was free to consume while watching football, and she would just have some later in the evening after the restaurant meal had faded away.
For the rest of my years living at home, this was my Thanksgiving tradition. Those three dishes and football. When I got married and moved out, I told my wife that I wanted a complete Thanksgiving dinner, because I’d never really had one. We made plans to cook and invited our parents over. The spread that the first year set the bar for every Thanksgiving since, as we had the works. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, deviled eggs, homemade rolls, broccoli casserole, sweet potato casserole, green beans, corn, and pumpkin pie. That year started a tradition that has yet to end at our home. Every year without fail, I’ve cooked a large dinner and invited numerous people to join us. It’s been a labor of love, but one well worth doing.
This year is different though. While I’m still cooking the whole meal, there will be fewer people around our table to share it with. My wife and daughters will be here of course, but we are without some notable people. My Mom and Dad won’t be joining us this year. Mom has Dementia, and since her fall at the beginning of July, she has been in a nursing home. Dad plans to spend the day with her there, and I can’t blame him. She has been his world for 50 years now.
I went to visit Mom today and spent a couple of hours with her. Unfortunately, the Dementia effects are bad today, and not only did she not recognize me, but she also has no clue that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. So I’m finding it hard to enjoy the holiday this season, as her idea all those years ago started me down a Thanksgiving path. And beyond that, her being at my table for the dinner has been something I’ve cherished throughout the years. Hell, it even broke the old tradition of them going out to eat for Thanksgiving. I’m still preparing the full meal, but it’s not going to be the same knowing she has no idea what’s going on, and that she and Dad won’t be with us. Dad doesn’t even want me to bring food down to him at home in the evening saying that he wishes the holidays just wouldn’t come this year. Even though it’s hard to wrap my mind around, I guess I can see his point.
But I’ve said all of that to say this…enjoy your loved ones this Thanksgiving (and every other day) because you don’t know when all of the things we take for granted will be taken away from us. Like I wouldn’t have thought last year that it would likely be the last Thanksgiving dinner I got to share with my Mom. It’s that thought and others like it that are going to make Thanksgiving hard this year. Luckily, I still have others that I love joining me, and for that, I’m thankful.
I hope you and yours have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Enjoy it.